Thankful Thursday

[A little exercise in gratitude and appreciating my body.]

  1. Knee is getting better (I was walking without pain for most of  Wednesday!  I took no ibuprofen today!) in part due to …
  2. Walking, leg lifts, “chair squats”, and other exercises from physical therapy, and …
  3. Stretching, and … 
  4. Having a job and life where I can arrange do all that without having to miss work or re-injure myself by walking too much. 
  5. …and not to be all about my knee, husband’s swimming rama is YUM :) 

Walking review: Pike Place Market

Since the knee has been bothering me lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to go for walks. The physical therapist I worked with during my prior knee episode recommended that I walk on a treadmill* at least part of the time because the uniform speed and surface let me walk at a very predictable, steady pace. But, of course, the best place to walk is the place you will walk … and I’d been walking on a treadmill in my employer’s office park’s gym for most of the week.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

So when the man of the house suggested an outing to the Pike Place Market on Saturday, I was up for it.   We wandered through most of the main arcade, including the open-air portion, gawking at paintings, art glass, dried flowers, woodcarvings, metalworked jewelry, glass jewelry, handknit sweaters, handpainted shirts, fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, honey, jams, jellies, and so on.  

It was an almost perfect contrast with a treadmill.  

Treadmill Market
Solitary Crowded
Static environment Varied environment
Uniform pace Varied pace
Flat Sloped

I’d forgotten that the main arcade floor was built with deliberate slopes to direct rain and stall-washing runoff. You’re not just walking uphill, but often leaning down to the right or left. Overall I think the hour or so walking was beneficial … but I was glad I had an icepack waiting at home. :)

*Yes, that which makes the treadmill boring also makes it useful.

Ash Wednesday

Today always reminds me of the friend who gave up Catholicism for Lent one year.  :) 

I grew up born-again, in a church that was a megachurch before megachurches were cool, in a small, fairly fundie denomination.  I was so “low church” I didn’t know what “low church” was

I was baptized Episcopalian at St Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle when I was 27. 

I realize it’s not uncommon for adults to seek for the things their childhood religion didn’t hold.  :)  In my case, it also means that I don’t have the childhood associations with, say, Lent, that someone who grew up Catholic or Episcopal might have.  

The friend who gave up Catholicism for Lent did so because she felt too bound by the rules and the requirements.  For example, she has medical issues that make fasting impossible, which usually means one is exempt from fasting.  Even so, she felt she should, and was “failing” by not fasting.  

In my case, the rebellion I tend to have against dieting strictures doesn’t kick in over Lenten restrictions.  Last year I did not consciously decide not to eat meat1 on Fridays.  I just found I really didn’t want to eat meat on Fridays.  

It’s weird.  

The general Episcopal view of fasting, as I understand it, is:  “All can; some should; none must”. This year I sat with myself and thought about it. Yes, I will probably not eat meat on Fridays. (I didn’t today, either.  I also warned the man of the house.)  But I also don’t have anything I want to give up, per se. Instead, I’m adding more exercise2. With my right leg as unhappy as it is, I’m starting slow, with physical therapy exercises and 10 minutes of walking each morning. But I’m doing it, and that’s the important part.


1 Eggs, dairy, and seafood: yes. Chicken, beef, pork, mutton, venison, and other land animals: no. Not really a hardship. I tend to only eat seafood at one meal.
2 I quit doing the bus thing – the transit system’s “revision” of the buses in my area doubled my transit time and reduced the walking time. Considering it’s also cheaper to drive, well…

Long time no post

Work was insane for a couple of weeks.   The anniversary / Valentine’s / President’s Day weekend that we’d planned to spend out of town?  Turned into “Friday the 13th at a local hotel,  then rush home Saturday morning to work.”  The rest of the weekend was spent tied to the computer.  

Things did wind down at the end of last week.  Unfortunately, I noticed some other things on Friday the 20th,  too: 

  • Pain along the outside of my right leg.
  • Pain in my right knee. 
  • A limp. 
  • … all of which is most noticeable when I first get out of bed or if I’ve been sitting a while. 

The bad knee strikes again.  Not as bad as when I ended up in physical therapy 14 months ago, but not enjoyable, either.   Given that I spent a week and a half mostly tied to my computer, I think it’s more related to inactivity (*cough*) than wrong activity.   So what am I doing about it? 

Mostly?  I’m being more diligent about stretching, walking, weights, and other exercises – the ones recommended by the physical therapist.  After stretching and a few minutes on the treadmill this morning, my limp and pain were gone….and I got off the treadmill when they started to come back.    I’m also taking over-the-counter pain meds and using an ice pack as appropriate.   And I’m posting about it here to remind me of when it started, so I can keep track of how long it took to fix it. :)

Day in the Life: Sitting at my desk

I wasn’t even sure I’d write a Day in the Life post about work. What would I write? “I sit at my desk. I type, I mouse. Occasionally I go to a meeting.”

(Of course there’s more to my work than typing and mousing.  But if you were interested in the process of software development you’d probably be reading one of these books, not this blog ;)

And yet…..

When I get to my office, my cubicle has a different chair than everyone else.  Why?  Because mine is custom-ordered, extra-wide, and armless.  It was purchased for me last fall, after the standard chairs went from a “too narrow but not bad” to seriously irritating my injured leg.  We are talking not only increased limping but pretty serious pain.  I tried adjusting it – including removing the arms – but it was still problematic. I couldn’t seem to sit on the thing without the bottom edge cutting into my pulled muscle.

So one Friday I explained to our HR person, as matter-of-factly as I could, that the chair was a problem. Continue reading

…and the other reason why I exercise

It’s called, “Use it or lose it.”

Last fall* I pulled a muscle in my right leg.  Kept up my daily walks, pulled it again – or maybe pulled another muscle.  This aggravated the occasional pain I would have in my right knee, and added some hip and thigh pain too.

By November I was noticeably limping much of the time.  I couldn’t walk without pain. I couldn’t drive without pain. I would climb stairs using my left leg only.  I stopped sitting on the floor because I wasn’t sure I could get back up.  I stopped taking baths because I wasn’t sure I could get out of the tub.

I was afraid to go to the doctor, because I didn’t want to hear that I should just get weight loss surgery. Or a knee replacement.  I considered just buying a mobility scooter and moving to a 1-story dwelling.

This was very scary.

In December I pulled myself together to go to the doctor, or, rather, my ARNP.  She ordered knee x-rays to confirm some arthritis in both knees.  She also prescribed physical therapy, which I found to be a fantastic and empowering experience.  The physical therapist determined that my right quadriceps & hamstring muscles were significantly weaker than the left ones.  There was also some loss of range of motion, but mostly I was lacking strength.

So I started doing targeted strength exercises.  Single-leg raises, seated leg extensions, side leg lifts, bridges, steps, “chair squats”, and more.  All with 10-15 reps per set, 1-2 sets a day, on each leg. Over an hour’s worth of homework, all told.

I also was urged to begin going for walks regularly again.  Over time we increased the difficulty – using deeper steps (I’d started with a 2″ deep phone book) and exercise bands to increase resistance.

I am still doing those exercises, though not every day. Most of them I do now with a 10lb ankle weight a couple times a week.  I also take baths, get on the floor, and go upstairs more often… because if I do it today, I can probably do it tomorrow.  :)

*For the curious, this was the fall after I got my asthma and vitamin b12 deficiency under control and had loads of energy that I had to do something with.  So I began going for walks and started riding the bus, which also involved walking.  I began slowly, working up gradually, did all the things I’d been told would prevent injury…and got injured anyway.   Sigh.